Kate Granger: Yorkshire doctor who inspired the world

Kate Granger described being a doctor as 'the best job in the world'.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 24th July 2016, 3:48 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th July 2016, 4:54 pm
Dr Kate Granger, Courage award at the  Women of Achievement Awards at the New Dock in Clarence Dock, Leeds
Dr Kate Granger, Courage award at the Women of Achievement Awards at the New Dock in Clarence Dock, Leeds

Originally from Huddersfield, she trained at Edinburgh University, graduating with honours in 2005.

That summer she moved back to Yorkshire and married Chris Pointon, as well as starting work as a junior doctor, training at hospitals in West Yorkshire.

It was on holiday in California in summer 2011 that she was first taken ill.

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Dr. Granger at work in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield

After being seen by doctors in the US, she was initially given a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Back in the UK, she was eventually told she was suffering desmoplastic small round cell tumour, known as DSRCT. The aggressive form of cancer affects just one in two million people, usually children and teenagers.

Soon after diagnosis, it became clear her illness was incurable. She was 29.

Dr Kate Granger with her husband Chris Pointon and chef Michel Roux Jr at the BMJ Awards.

Dr Granger, who lived in East Ardsley near Wakefield, had kept a diary which formed the basis of her first book, The Other Side, which told the story of her diagnosis and experience as a patient.

In an indication of what was to come, she also said she wanted healthcare professionals to understand what being a patient was really like.

Not only did she want to enlighten doctors, but also to help other cancer patients.

Dr Granger had started to draw up a ‘Bucket List’ of things she wanted to achieve before her death, which included charity fundraising and having a book published.

Dr. Granger at work in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield

By donating the proceeds of The Other Side to charity, which the couple decided would benefit the Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal in Leeds, she achieved both.

Orders started coming in and the couple also added to the fundraising themselves, completing various physical feats. She was also a keen and accomplished baker, and more was raised through regular bake sales held at the Bexley Wing at St James’s Hospital.

By the end of 2012, her fundraising for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal stood at £50,000 and the couple had to revise their target to £100,000. Later that target would be raised again to the landmark £250,000, which was reached a few days before Dr Granger died.

Despite having to cope with constant ill-health and the effects of treatment, Dr Granger remained dedicated to her work.

Dr Kate Granger with her husband Chris Pointon and chef Michel Roux Jr at the BMJ Awards.

She had always aspired to become a consultant, though she thought she would not achieve that goal.

In her second book The Bright Side, she said that she wouldn’t survive long enough “unless there is some kind of miracle”.

In fact she did achieve that aim and became a consultant in elderly medicine, continuing to work for as long as her health allowed.

During her visits to hospital as a patient, she was unimpressed that so few healthcare workers introduced themselves, so she decided to start the #hellomynameis campaign to change things as “the first rung on the ladder to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care”.

The campaign became a huge success, has been adopted by health organisations all over the world and brought Dr Granger numerous awards.

Aside from her work, fundraising and campaigning, she was determined to enjoy her limited time by ticking off more items on her ‘Bucket List’.

The couple renewed their wedding vows, went on trips abroad and ate at top restaurants including Le Gavroche, where they met and became friends with chef Michel Roux Jr.

Spending time with her loved ones – her husband, family and friends – was very important. She doted on her niece and nephew and loved playing with them, and her hobbies included playing the flute.

Dr Granger carried on with her life as much as she possibly could until her health became too frail.

She was surrounded by her family when she died, aged 34, on Saturday – her and Chris’s 11th wedding anniversary.

As she explained in her second book, she never wanted to be described as brave or inspirational.

Instead she much preferred another description of her attitude, as “pragmatic stoicism”.

“I am just Kate,” she said.

“I just plough on with each day as it comes and try my very hardest to keep smiling.”